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A Look Around The NFC North

Posted by Mike Wobschall on November 20, 2012 – 7:32 am

Week 11 is officially in the books and the NFC North is now set for what should be a dramatic and exciting final six-game stretch. Every team in the division has had their bye and every team has played 10 games. Let’s take a look at where each team stands as we approach the final stretch of the 2012 regular season…

Chicago Bears
The Bears have been NFC North leaders for most of the season, but after their loss to San Francisco on Monday Night Football they no longer control the division. After starting 7-1, the Bears have lost consecutive games to quality teams (Houston, San Francisco) and now sit at 7-3, including 1-1 in the division. And it doesn’t get any easier for the Bears down the stretch, as they’ll play the Vikings twice in three weeks with Seattle sandwiched between. Then, they host the Green Bay Packers (more on them below) in Week 15 before closing out the season with consecutive road games at Arizona and Detroit. Chicago’s defense is one of the League’s best, but the offense must turn things around if they want to remain in the playoff picture. QB Jay Cutler missed this past week’s game (concussion) and the offensive line just allowed 6 sacks to the 49ers defense.

Green Bay Packers
There might not be a hotter team in the NFL right now. The Packers have won five consecutive games, a stretch that includes a thrashing of the AFC’s best team – the Houston Texans - in Week 6 and a gutty 24-20 win on the road over Detroit last week. The winning streak has them at 7-3 (2-0 in the NFC North) and has vaulted them to a tie atop the division with Chicago. Just as Chicago and Minnesota will do, the Packers will enter a key stretch of their season over the next three weeks, as they travel to play the NY Giants this Sunday before hosting the Vikings and Lions in Week 13 and Week 14. Then Green Bay closes the season with a home game vs. Tennessee sandwiched between road trips to Chicago and Minnesota.

Minnesota Vikings
Speaking of Minnesota, the Vikings come out of their bye with a 6-4 record (2-0 in the NFC North) and a challenging stretch of games staring them in the face. It begins this week in Chicago, continues next week in Green Bay, and then advances to a home game against the Bears followed by consecutive road games in St. Louis and Houston before a season finale at home against Green Bay. Yes, that slate of games is a brutal stretch. But it’s also good news because it means the Vikings control their own destiny. They are currently one game behind both Chicago and Green Bay, but they have four games against those opponents, which gives them an opportunity to methodically work their way into the playoff picture and perhaps even a division title. It all starts this week in Chicago.

Detroit Lions
What a difference five minutes can make. With 5:21 to play in the 4th quarter, the Lions led the Packers 17-14 and had a 1st and goal from the Green Bay 10. A TD would’ve sealed the victory and reestablished the Lions as a playoff contender. Detroit couldn’t find the end zone, though, and settled for a FG and 6-point lead instead. Just 2.5 minutes later, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers lofted a pass toward WR Randall Cobb in the end zone, and Green Bay took a 21-20 lead. Detroit couldn’t muster a game-winning drive of their own, and the air was let out of their 2012 season. They were close to overcoming a poor start to the season (1-3 into a Week 5 bye) with three wins in four games from Week 6 to Week 9, but two straight losses to the Vikings and Packers has ended any thought of a comeback. The loss to Green Bay dropped Detroit to 4-6, a record that includes a devastating 0-4 mark in the division. Detroit is now relegated to a spoiler role within the division (they have one game remaining against both Chicago and Green Bay) and also to trying to generate momentum to carry into 2013.


Posted in All, Mike Wobschall | 33 Comments »


33 Responses to “A Look Around The NFC North”

  1. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Last…

  2. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    This is a quote I read out of the Strib…With what the coaches feel Ponder needs to improve on…

    Improvement needed
    While the players had some time off, the coaches spent much of the bye doing some self-scouting. So what conclusions were reached for the offense?

    “They talked about what we needed to work on, and the big thing is our turnover differential,” quarterback Christian Ponder said. “And our Red Zone [offense]. Those are two things that we’ve got to work on, especially with our schedule stacked up.”

    And what is the key to improvement in those areas? Execution, of course.

    “We’ve just got to keep working on it and finding ways to make it happen,” Ponder said. “When we look back at the film and what we did wrong, it just goes back to execution and getting through my reads quicker and being able to check the ball down and not forcing things outside

    ___________

    Sounds VERY conservative to me…Ponder is making his reads to quickly already…Receivers don’t have time to run their routes…O-line PROTECTION is the key…Shots down the field setting up the running game…

    Quit forcing Ponders head in getting to the almighty “conservative” check down play !!!…If your going to win this division…The coaching staff will need to take the training wheels off of this offense !!!…

  3. By vikesince69 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Da Bears looked pretty weak last nite in San Fran….here are the two keys to beating these guys. Protect the ball and stop thier deep threat (Marshall). There offensive line is absolutely pathetic and Campbell or Cutler has to be nervous back there!! Now I know they will play better at home and they will get at least two very critical and favorable calls by the refs sometime during the contest but if the Vikes can protect the ball and make the Bear offense do the scoring we got a good shot at taking them down.

  4. By Erik the Red on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    If the Vikings can find a way to go at least 5-1 over these next games, then they can make it to the Super Bowl. The question is will they go 5-1 or better. But this will be a very good and tough test for our team, and hopefully they are all ready for it after this bye.

  5. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    The DE’s of the 49ers made the T’s look pathetic…

    The DE’s were using a 3/4 stance on the outside…Making the tackles stand up before taking on the hits…Bull rushes out of those kind of stances were killing the tackles…The DE’s were pushing them back right into the QB…

    It will be easy to see if the Vikings watch film on this game last night ???…

    Because if they did…Allen and Robison will be doing much the same thing outside this Sunday…And those tackles will tire easily this week if they do…After being man handled all last night…

    “Muddle huddle” defensive front four…Mentioned it yesterday morning…Will dominate the Bears O-line…I use it with everyone though at times…But not all the time…Mix things up…Even inside to slow up running game with Forte…

    Vikings can dominate this game…Just need to be creative on both sides of the ball…And special teams…

    LETS GO BEAR HUNTING !!!!!

  6. By BlueBird7 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    The Bears are anything but weak! To stop Marshall, we need good cornerbacks.

    With Chris Cook out, who will step in? Burton? Jefferson?

    Would be good game planning if Frazier would train Joe Webb the rest of the off week for sliping him in with some surprise plays..The Bears are game planning for Ponder. If Frazier/Musgrave want an edge, this could be it.

    Time is short. Plan something or watch the playoffs at home on TV.

  7. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    That is another thing…BB7 brought up Marshall…

    DOUBLE TEAM MARSHALL ALL NIGHT LONG…Press him at the line…And have a safety over the top…

    Marshall was ticked off last night…(to say the least)…And has some kind of rib injury he was trying to hide also…Saw him wincing more than once, after falling to the ground, grabbing for his rib area…

    Marshall will lose it early…If the Vikings get in his face…And stay there…Be PHYSICAL with Marshall…And he will fold…Same goes for Cutler…Both are cry babies…Just need to be slapped around a little…To get the tears started flowing…. ; )

  8. By Ryan on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    i think 4-2 is a legitimate possibility which means 10-6 prolly six seed

  9. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    The key to the game will be the Vikings LB play, and containing Forte ???…imo

    If the LB’s maintain gap dicipline and play well…The Vikings have an excellent chance to win this game…

    Even though the game is away and on grass…Which never plays well in the Vikings favor… : /
    I

  10. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Another reason the Vikings better try and score points and stop being so conservative…

    What if total points is factored into who wins this division…In case teams are tied up end of the season ???…And all have equal division wins…Team wins and all…

  11. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I feel some what bad for the Lions…The Lions did not lose that game Sunday…

    The refs won the game for the Packers…

    Titus Young was absolutely MUGGED in the end zone on that passing play late in the game Wobbs mentioned…Pass interference was OBVIOUS !!!…But no call was made by the officials…

    The refs, ended the Lions chances this season…Not the Packers…I would think even the fans would get sick of their team winning games that way…Watching their team BEG for yellow laundry from officials late in games when they are losing…Because they just can’t win any other way…

    And the refs ALWAYS help the little beggars out also…

    My question is…

    Why Mr Roger Goodell ???…WHY ???…

  12. By ponder, aka 3 and out on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    the 3 pro -picks don’t even include the vikings for a race to the final wildcard spot on nfl.com

  13. By Patrick McKenzie on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    The keys for the vikings win on sunday start with Ponder. Dont try to force the ball to harvin. Last week vs Lions, Ponder looked relaxed and calm in the pocket, not trying to force plays. Dont get me wrong, I think Harvin is phenomenal but we have other weapons as well. SHOUT OUT to A.P. and the Offensive line. Other keys to a win on sunday is our front four. I think early and often pressure will tire their offense quickly. We also will need help over the top to stop that cutler, marshel duo. I believe in the frazier, vikings system they put in place now its time to let them loose to beat them bears. Go Defense make them pay

  14. By iaVIKE on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    “I would think even the fans would get sick of their team winning games that way…Watching their team BEG for yellow laundry from officials late in games when they are losing…Because they just can’t win any other way…”

    OTK – That’s givin packer fans wayyyy too much credit…. : )

  15. By Patrick McKenzie on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I agree with iavike and kalil. Throughout the many seasons the packers have won a lot of games with that whining call for the yellow flag. Finally though they got what they deserved on that bad call against the Seahawks. ha ha

  16. By BlueBird7 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I do not think our two games with GreenBay will be just a walk thru the park.

    Frazier better have a GOOD game plan set up for both.

  17. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t think the Vikings will win at Lambeau field…

    Even if the Vikings beat the Packers physically…In all areas on the field…

    The refs will make sure the Packers win the points game in the end…I have absolutely no doubts on that…

  18. By VikingFanatic209 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    This week is the Bears and frazier does have it right…..this is our most important game of the season but not just because its our next game. No, we need to dominate this division…..and win 3 outta 4 and we can split the other 2 road games against St. Louis and Houston. Even though it would b great to knock off Houston….the Rams would b the better win because of being an NFC team it would count down the stretch. U guys got it right 4-2 just might get us there…………lets start the train this week in Chicago………..skol vikes!!!!!!!!

  19. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    A win this week puts the Vikings in the drivers seat, to win the NFC north division…

    It would put HUGE pressure on the Packers to beat us at Lambeau…

    Enough pressure…The Packers could have plenty of mistakes in that game…And so many mistakes…The refs might not be able to help them out enough, to win that game…

    A win this week…Is HUGE for the Vikings…Or the Bears…

    And both teams know it…

  20. By BlueBird7 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    It will help a great deal if Frazier knows how to pull the Red Challenge flag out.

    It would also be a great benefit if the people upstairs can react in a timey fashion.

  21. By Muskyfever on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    @OTK I also agree that the fudge packers get a lot of the calls to go there way. Then when they don’t, they had one call not go their way for once in their life, and the whole team pretty much boycotted the NFL… there is no explination to the hatred I feel towards that organization and their fans. I absolutely hate the packers. A bunch of whiny babies is what they are. Just like Marshall in the game last night. I have never seen someone as teary eyed as that fool. Even Jason Campbell looked like he was going to let some tears fly.

    I am so sick of the packers I can’t wait till we play em. I am going to go on their forum blog and laugh. HAHAHAHA!!!! since they send so many trollers over here.

    But enough ranting… OTK you hit the nail right on the head. That whole team is a joke, and I personally believe that they make the NFL look bad with the whiney ways

  22. By Troutdaddy on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    After watching the Bears go down in flames last night, I have no doubt in my mind that the Vikes can own them. If they can put pressure on the QB and mix it up on offense, then we will do to them what the 49ers did. I think that Peterson is going to have ahuge day and that we are going to see some deep threat catches from a few of our receivers to really open up the game. if we can use Rudolph in the middle and then keep blasting the sides with Simpson and Wright then we could see some great mis-matches and give Ponder a boost in his down-field opportunities. I will be totally surprised if we do not see some great play out of our Vikes this Sunday. We are loaded for bear and now we need to fire the big gun!!!

  23. By Troutdaddy on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    The Packers are slipping fast and the Detroit game was proof of that. If our Defense can keep Rodgers out of the Pocket then all that is left is the fight with the home-town refs! I really like our chances against the Packers even at Lambeau. It would make my whole year to march into their house and light it on fire… Cheese melting everywhere and Peterson with a fondue stick…..

  24. By Dakotakid59 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    We need to take a tape of that SF game and duplicate it. Hopefully Cutler is still out because they are a much different team without him. we can beat them even in Chicaco. Lets go Bear hunting I hear Bear is really what the Vikings of old used to eat during Thantsgiving, many,many years agow. It’skind of stringy you have to marinate it a little ( B. Urlacher ) Just might be to tough to eat at all.

  25. By OTKalil2012 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I want Cutler in the game…

    I don’t want to go hunt a “crippled Bear”…I want to take the heart out of that bear, when we come into Chicago country !!!..

    That means Cutler and company…

    To be the best…You beat the best…

    That’s how a young team builds confidence…

    Get Cutler in there for the big dance !!!…I don’t want the media to say after the game…All the Vikings did was beat Cutlers stand in…

    I want the heart of that Bear…I want to beat Cutler and the boys !!!…

  26. By Parkway on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Be careful what you wish for OTK

  27. By BlueBird7 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Parkway

    OTK has stuck his foot in the door. I believe the Vikings will keep it open….

  28. By Augiedog on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    Somebody is sniffing some serious glue out there. Recall that the Vikes have only 1 (one, uno) road victory. They have 4 out of 6 games left on the road. They are playing teams with actual quarterbacks, you know..the kind that find a guy 30 yards down field on 3rd and 25 against us while back-pedaling.

    The next two in-conference games are away. Cook is out for the year and we have yet to show a deep threat more than maybe once a game. Percy is coming off an injury and Jared hasn’t had half the sacks he had last year. Houston is not the last game of the year, so they will not be resting anyone. And last, but not least…this is Minnesota you are talking about. It’s the next worst thing than being a Mets fan. Lots of spark, but no enduring flame.

    5-1….are you kidding me?????

  29. By T.Harris on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    VIKES ON 3,123 VIKES

  30. By vikesince69 on Nov 20, 2012 | Reply

    I agree with OTK …..I want Cutler in the game. Mainly because I want to see his pouty chipmunk face when he is getting up off the his back time after time!!!

  31. By Sconnie on Nov 22, 2012 | Reply

    You are the textbook reason the Vikings fan base is such a joke. Your team is has nothing to show so you blame the refs for losses and other team’s success. Viking fans are the most pathetic and pretentious fanbase on the planet. Get over yourselves.

  32. By Vikes Rich on Nov 25, 2012 | Reply

    We suk and don’t deserve any respect! There’s a reason why we get no ESPN coverage or by the NFL network. Our team’s a joke, only reason why we win is if one of our premier player’s have a good day. It takes more than that to be well rounded and wina very important game like today. Why I still believe after 41yrs is beyond me

  33. By Vikes Rich on Nov 25, 2012 | Reply

    We don’t need a new stadium because it won’t change things. People of Minnesota keep catching walleye and hopefully this winter isn’t to brutal on u. I’m in PA and always have to listen to Steeler fans talking sh@#.Sad thing is thier right I’m sickened by our performance 2day. A win at Soldier Field cld have sent a statement, but once again we stunk the field up big time

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